Monday, June 30, 2014

The Paolo Sorrentino Files: The Consequences of Love

Paolo Sorrentino's sophomore film, "The Consequences of Love", again stars his muse Toni Servillo as another enigmatic, introverted figure at the center of a spiraling character study. Toss in some good 'ol Sicilian mafia types and the stunningly beautiful Olivia Magnani (granddaughter of Italian cinema's Anna Magnini) as the girl who sets his conscience in motion and one gets a wonderfully muted tale about the dramatic ways one can turn their life around.

Servillo plays Titta, a middle-aged recluse of sorts living out his existence in solitude at a luxurious Swiss hotel. The only pleasures he allows himself is a weekly dose of heroin and the chance to quietly observe (but never respond) to a beautiful bar hostess, Sofia (Magnini). He interacts, modestly, with other patrons of the hotel, including an old couple who constantly gamble at cards and complain about their lost lifestyle of riches and his visiting brother. Titta's other free time is spent carrying a briefcase of money back and forth to a local bank where he supervises the count. As all of this is presented in fragments and images that are difficult to determine at what point in the story their happening, Sorrentino maintains an air of mystery, showing alot but explaining very little. It's only when Titta breaks his hermit-like mold and sparks up a conversation with Sofia that the wheels of a subtle plot are set into motion. Genre suddenly kicks in and Titta makes a bold decision that not only seems to counteract his entire lifestyle of missed opportunities, but succinctly sums up the film's title as well. Like his next film, "The Family Friend", "The Consequences of Love" is Sorrentino working out the slow mechanics of two protagonist who really shouldn't be liked, yet end up as sentimental, believable anti heroes. Titta made some poor choices in ife, and he's certainly paying for them by his imposed exile, but he's not a completely bad person.... or at least as Servillo embodies him, we care.

Like all of his films, "The Consequences of Love" is stylish, kinetic and framed by a wide variety of musical choices that energize the film. And like most of his films, it also takes some warming up too.... as people and events slip in and out with little notice, only for their meaning to come blaring back later in the film. With "The Consequences of Love", it's an almost toss-away line of conversation between Titta and his brother that becomes the haunting final shot. The consequences of both love and the inevitable "what if" are magnified as one's life flashes before their eyes. And as Sorrentino stares into the eyes of Titta, we believe that both are equally devastating.

"The Consequences of Love" is available on Region 2 DVD.

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